Cech, please! Is it Time to Say Goodbye to the Man with the Golden Glove?

Petr Cech signs for Arsenal

When Petr Čech joined, I was very happy.

Surely it didn’t come as a surprise, as speculations went on for a couple of transfers windows, but I remember how satisfied I was, how happy I felt to finally have a top-class goalkeeper at the Club.

Given his age, the Czech wasn’t a long-term choice but his goalkeeping skills, stature and experience were finally fixing the ever-lasting goalkeeping problem for the Arsenal; after years of Almunia, Fabianski, Szczesny and Ospina (and even Lehmann and Seaman, I would say), it felt good to know that we had a top-class player between the sticks.
When John Terry famously declared that his former team-mate would win us ten to fifteen points, many felt he was exaggerating but I thought Petr Čech could be that good – and his first season has been magnificent.
After a calamitous debut against West Ham, he produced a long string of excellent saves and often kept us alive in games where opponents were breaking us too easily: who remembers the amazing save against Liverpool at home, when he denied Benteke from point-blank range? Who remembers the unbelievable reaction to the Laurent Koscielny own-goal attempt at Norwich City?
There are many more, also in Europe, and it was pleasant to see him picking up the Golden Glove award at the end of last season.

The man with the golden gloves...

The man with the golden gloves…

The story seems a bit different this year, though: he looks less-assured and slower, compared to last season, and hasn’t the same calming influence he seemed to have; basically, it looks like age is finally catching-up on him.
Also, we’ve all noticed the dangerous tendency from the big Czech to concede on his near post, as highlighted by Fraser against Bournemouth and Sterling against Manchester City; those goals are unusual for a player of his quality and could have been avoided rather easily.

Should we start worrying about the former Rennes and Chelsea shot-stopper, then?

In my opinion, he’s still among the best in his role, despite his age and recent errors, and
this season’s numbers are still placing Petr Čech among the top goalkeepers in the Premier League for saves per goal and clean sheets, which is encouraging and slightly surprising, seen the recent dip in form from our goalkeeper (see below).

Table 1

I think that talks about his replacement are coming too early, also because of how the market looks, these days.
Finding a very good goalkeeper must be very difficult, if you consider that Juventus and Italy are still playing Gianluigi Buffon at 200 years of age and someone like Claudio Bravo represented top Clubs like FC Barcelona and Manchester City.
With Manuel Neuer, Jan Oblak, Thibaut Courtois and David de Gea, perhaps the best goalkeepers around, not for sale and Hugo Lloris very unlikely to move from Seven Sisters road to Holloway road, there aren’t many options available.
Of course we could take a gamble on Mattia Perin – Italy’s brightest prospect, who broke both his knees in consecutive years – or Yoan Cardinale of OGC Nice, but we’d find ourselves with another unproven player on hand and a lot of uncertainty, something that sounds like old Arsenal, really.

What if we already have the ideal candidate?
Wojciech Szczesny is currently playing the best football of his career while on loan at AS Roma and seems to have left his attitude problems behind him, for good. His performances make him the best goalkeeper in Italy (see below) and place him virtually on par with a certain Manuel Neuer, which makes him a strong candidate to take over from Petr Čech, when the time comes.

Table 2

I know Wojciech Szczesny has a history of troubles, mistakes, cigarettes and outspoken interviews but I must admit I agree with Arseblog when he says that goalkeepers should be a little bit mad and I believe he deserves a second chance at the Arsenal, also because of his deep love for the Club.
He’s entering the prime years of his career and was once described by Arsène Wenger as someone who “has the potential to be a historical goalkeeper for Arsenal Football Club.”, it would be a bit silly to let him go now.

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7 Responses to Cech, please! Is it Time to Say Goodbye to the Man with the Golden Glove?

  1. Atid January 18, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

    Personally think ospina is better szczesney and that ospina is closing in on Cech. I would like to see ospina get more matches, though quite how that isamaged is not my problem.

    • AndreaR January 19, 2017 at 10:15 am #

      I’m not 100% convinced about him but I was impressed by his outings in Europe this season.
      I still rate Szczesny more than him, some of the saves he made in his early 20s were stunning.
      I’ve been lucky enough to see Buffon coming through the ranks at Parma and used to compare Szczesny’s reflexes, bravery and anticipation to his.
      What a difference in attitude can do to a whole career….

  2. Alf B January 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

    Anybody who thinks Cech is better than Seamen is delusional and obviously never saw Seaman play

    • AndreaR January 19, 2017 at 10:11 am #

      …said the man who mispelled his name 🙂

      Seaman was great but that one mistake in Paris against Real Zaragoza really sums up everything about him, exaclty like the goal allowed to Ronaldinho during WC 2002.
      Fantastic goalkeeper but had his moments when he switched off.
      Just my opinion, though

  3. Nick Birch January 22, 2017 at 7:43 am #

    Ospina isn’t good enough to be our number one, he’s too short and has no aerial presence whatsoever, neither is he vocal enough.

    Good shot stopper but all goalkeepers are.

    • AndreaR January 23, 2017 at 7:15 am #

      Hey Nick, thanks for your comments.
      I agree with your concerns about Ospina stature and overall “presence” but he’s more than a shot-stopper to me: he’s very quick off his line, something that Cech lacks, and he has great reflexes, yet I’m not 100% sure about him and would still prefer to see Szczesny back next summer.

      • Nick Birch January 24, 2017 at 8:25 am #

        I think Szczesny is better than Ospina too because he can do actually everything Ospina can but he’s taller and more vocal.

        I sit close to the pitch, behind the goal at home games and I’ve never heard Ospina shout once.

        I can see what you are saying about Ospina being quick off his line but I think in domestic games, there’s more aerial balls into the box and it would worry me having him there.

        Thought he go away with one at Preston, when a foul was given but he won’t always be so lucky.

        I still think he should have saved Watford’s winner in the cup last season too….

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